Heroes in Crisis #9 review

It’s the final issue of Heroes in Crisis and the message we’re meant to take away is that Hope is accepting responsibility, bearing your burdens, and carrying on regardless. 

For me, Hope is continuing to buy a series that, more often than not, just annoyed me. In the end, Hope equals stupidity – I feel dumb for hoping for a final issue swerve that would make me like – or at least accept – a series that’s not clicked for me since the moment we learnt how superhero therapy centre Sanctuary worked. Or rather, ‘worked’. 

Because a care facility run by robots – an automat for mental illness – could never cure what ails sad super-people. Tragedy inevitably came calling, with the third Flash, Wally West, losing control of the lightning within him and killing most of his fellow patients and him framing Harley Quinn and Booster Gold for mass murder to give him time to somehow make up for what he’s done. 

This month we see that meant revealing the truth of Sanctuary to the world. 

And then, we do get a bit of a swerve. 

So that’s something. Five Days Older Wally, having had time to think, realises a cover-up isn’t heroic, he’ll convince his younger self to accept what he’s done and take whatever comes. By the end of the issue he’s in a cell ready, if rumours are correct, to lead a new version of the Suicide Squad. 

The resolution doesn’t make any sense to me – the Wally Twins use time travel shenanigans to institute a time loop meaning the framing of Harley and Booster, his only real crime, never happened. So why not use time travel to go back and prevent the mass lightning strike a few minutes earlier? Using Barry and Flashpoint as justification is weak – Barry changed history decades before his starting point, creating a butterfly effect that never really made sense – Wally would just have to tweak one very recent day; heck, he’s changing his own history here by talking to himself.

But no, Wally decides to leave everyone dead and wait for the Justice League to arrive and arrest him. By issue’s end he’s in what appears to be a prison cell, supposedly at peace but looking desperately sad. This seems very wrong. Accidentally killing a bunch of superheroes would surely mean a long course of treatment somewhere a hell of a lot more capable than Sanctuary which, bizarrely, seems to have been rebuilt by issue’s end.

Just take that in for a sec. 

The therapy centre whose failure led to the deaths of around a dozen superheroes is up and running once more. Wally pays the price for its failure while Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, whose hubris caused all this nonsense – they reckoned that as Senior Super Heroes they could fix folk by putting their personalities into robots, or something – just get on with their lives.

Writer Tom King really should have used a few pages to show the aftermath from the point of view of the Big Three. Instead, we get yet more panels of Heroes in Therapy, as he tries to sum up characters who’ve been around decades in a single panel. It’s ridiculously reductive.

Nope, his head is not on fire, it is, and always has been, an illusion. 

An easy nod to King’s excellent Vision series at Marvel, which makes no sense for Reddy, who already has a very human family.

What’s apparently meant to seem silly actually points up Zee’s insane coolness.

And still we don’t see what the heroes are looking at, this apparently silent servant who fails them so badly.

Will we see Heroes in Crisis codas in other books, showing how the world reacts to the revelation of Sanctuary? What happened to Five Days Later Wally, does he stay in the 25th century, where they head – in between panels – to make a ‘speed clone’ to serve as a dead body? Is a ‘speed clone’ not living, just some kind of after image that can fool the inevitable Bat-autopsy, or is a fresh Wally murder-suicided?

Am I just not getting this story at all?

I certainly don’t understand why Poison Ivy was comic-killed and resurrected in terms of Wally’s journey. And Wally encounter grouping Beetle, Booster, Babs and Harley on the literal field of conflict is utterly cringeworthy.

But, I do like this moment. Plus, the art by illustrator Clay Mann and colourist Tomeu Morey is very easy on the eye, with convincing expressions of emotion, facially and in terms of body language. And the title spread is a stunning irrelevance.

So, that’s Heroes in Crisis. King aimed to give us a deep look at how life as a superhero would affect the psyche. If you accept his skewed view of long-established characters, maybe he succeeded. Not for me. Heroes in Crisis has simply spat on the spirit of DC Rebirth and destroyed Wally West. A character we followed from kid sidekick to the most super of heroes, a respected member of the Justice League and a man defined by his extended family, is broken and alone.

That’s Hope? I hope not

42 thoughts on “Heroes in Crisis #9 review

  1. Ah, I probably enjoyed the series a tad more than you Mart. I saw it as more of a repudiation of the idea of Hope as encapsulated by Wally, a character returned from Limbo with more mental trauma than you could imagine and expecting that to go well. That wasn’t hope, that was fan- driven wishful thinking .
    Anyway. Kole.

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      1. What I took from Convergence’s end was that while Earth Prime was still formed and DC Comics featured that new Earth instead from then on, What it rescued was Earths 1, 2, 3, S, X, Qward Classic, etc, and while we haven’t read any stories of their continued existence they are still out there waiting for some inspired writer to someday use them if the muckety mucks will allow it. Personally, I’d love to see what someone could do with Earth 1, 2, and S especially with five or so years added of stories we haven’t seen. Just imagine: Supergirl probably would have seventeen new casts, jobs, and home cities in that time!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If that was the case, Steve Trevor probably would have died and come back another 5 times. You can’t keep a good Steve down, whether he’s Trevor or Howard with a bad dye job.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve teased about you doing the “Lord’s work” with covering this event, but after that final issue review, you deserve to be sainted, Martin!

    Do you get the feeling if this series didn’t have the DC ties…like if it was just a wholly independent production… would it still work?

    I’ll say this about Tom King, as well: he didn’t deserve the intense backlash he got for Batman 50, but I never got behind his Batman run in general, and this “event” feels wholly wrong headed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, and he really doesn’t deserve death threats. As the old truism goes, no one tries to make a bad comic; I just think a fair few bad choices were made here. It’s hard to know whether it’s lack of a strong editorial hand or – as per Bleeding Cool – too-strong editorial direction.

      I don’t think this would work as a wholly original series because there’d not be the emotional resonance, and the series certainly worked for some people.

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      1. Not for me. I thought it was right garbage. There were small slivers of character bits that worked for me, or that I would have liked to have seen followed up on, but on the whole… this series was wrong-headed on so many levels. Once again, I’m left dying to read a behind-the-scenes tell all book that describes what life has been like for DC under the reigns of Didio, Johns and Lee. I just can’t track the books they put out, with the hype that they use to describe their books, because for me, there’s no semblance between what they tell us they’re giving us (in interviews and at cons, etc.) and what actually shows up on the page. I mean, I can remember DC telling us from as far back as Infinite Crisis, that things were going to be less dark and more hopeful in “just a couple months”. And except for the very brief “Rebirth” window, the DC is more bleak and sad than I can ever remember it being.
        sigh
        I’m gonna go read some Messner-Loebs Wally stories and walllow in the fun and joy.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. A sane response, Murray. And some of those great Waid/Weiringi issues, or early Johns/Kolins stuff. How Tom King can even try to sell this as putting Wally in a better place I have no idea. An oak box would be a better place than this.

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    1. Right??
      Reading some of King’s comments that Wally hasn’t had a successful book in years and that this series was designed to increase Wally’s profile is just so much spin doctoring.
      Wally hasn’t had a successful series because that’s exactly the way DC wants it. Barry is the be all and end all and heaven forbid any other character get in the way of that.

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      1. Don’t forget that no on bought the book by Waid starring Wally and his family that was demanded even after they killed off Bart like was demanded. The Wally fans all want a Wally book but they each seem to want a different one from each other and they’re all different from what they get…

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  4. Like you I bought this even though, from the get go, it never seemed to click with me.

    Some of that is because King’s prior works of Vision and Mister Miracle did work incredibly. I kept hoping this would somehow find the magic that those series did.

    In the end, this is an drab, sad, and utterly forgettable series. I don’t even know if I actually know what happened here. Other than destroying Wally entirely when he was just brought back in Rebirth as a source of hope.

    Thanks for your reviews as they helped me wrap my head around this thing. But in the end, this isn’t my cup of tea.

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  5. I’m of mixed feelings about this issue. The encounter group stuff in the field you called cringeworthy mostly worked for me, in a way it obviously didn’t for you. But the story veers so wildly in tone when it gets to Booter’s time-travel solution that the other part of it didn’t quite land.

    And also, frankly — I’m still not clear on what Wally’s plan was. Just reveal that sanctuary exists, so that people understand that their heroes deal with trauma too? Maybe I need to read the whole thing again now that it’s over.

    I don’t have a problem with Wally not going back and fixing what he did. At this point in time, he *hadn’t* killed himself — just that there was a body there that indicated he’d done so. So Booster’s solution makes sense, without changing history, which I think is important. (And I think it’s reasonable for Wally to want to not go back and change things — even something you might think would be simple because it was so recent. His missing family seems like reason enough never to risk that, so that no one goes through what he’s going through. Even if that means letting the dead stay dead.)

    As for ruining Wally forever, I don’t agree. These characters are resilient. Hal Jordan was ruined forever once. I know someone who will never forgive Zatanna for mindwiping the JLA, or Iron Man for Civil War, but they’re both obviously still viable characters today. I remember cries that the Superman/Wonder Woman romance would ruin both characters forever. Captain America said Hail Hydra, and has since starred in one of the biggest movies of all time…in which he says it again! It’s comics. This won’t break Wally. Either this bit of his history will work, and bring us good stories in the future, or it will be swept under the rug through retcon or neglect. There’s not many characters that change for good in comics, in a way that they don’t or can’t change back. Dr. Light is still toxic. That’s the only one I can think of that’s irredeemable, I think, and he was a villain to begin with.

    I don’t know if I like the direction DC is taking Wally in either — but it might ultimately make for better stories than family-man Wally did, even if those were happier stories on the whole. Jai and Irey came from a good impulse, but they were pretty much a case of giving a character so much of what he wanted that people didn’t want to read about him anymore.

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    1. Hmm, did I say Wally was ruined for ever? I did say ‘destroyed’ so perhaps the implication was there. He’s certainly in an awful place for now, Rob, and given he’s someone I’ve liked for decades (minus much of his New Teen Titans period) I really don’t want him having a few years of this. He’d had the suffering of losing his family, why double the pain?

      Steve, I bought the Flash series with the kids… but it wasn’t very good, indeed!

      Anj, you are most welcome.

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      1. Wally will be back and fine…eventually. Remember that Hal Jordan once killed thousands. Give fandom the right story and even if it’s as ridiculous as GL Rebirth it will work because the fans want it to work. Didio will just have to be gone fr it to happen. that’ll happen eventually. I’m surprised it hasn’t already since his regime has never gotten out of second place for more than a month or two at a time…

        Liked by 2 people

      2. crazy fact but originally this was supposed to set up a new Suicide Squad book with Wally as a member, WTF is not even close to enough to describe how nuts that is

        Liked by 1 person

      3. OK, I’m going to look on the bright side for a minute. Bear with me.

        I think the problem is that for Wally, Linda and the kids are the happy ending. And DC really can’t give him that. Not only do they, as a serial comics publisher, have the natural aversion to endings of any sort, but they’ve already got a superhero family with Superman right now, and it would also give the impression of aging Wally past Barry, which is something DC certainly doesn’t want.

        So how to tell compelling stories with Wally? Getting Linda back without the kids might seem even more tragic (though probably a little comics hand-waving could ease that enough to make it palatable). Giving Wally another character arc, unrelated to his lost family, is another option, and it seems like the one that they’ve chosen. And to be perfectly honest, in some ways Wally seems built for an arc of Atonement. For a decade or so, his character arc was about being a better person to live up to the legacy of Barry Allen. This arc might not be so different — Wally working to be a better person to make up for a horrible mistake.

        There’s a potential similarity to some of the golden years of Wally West stories in this set-up. The thing we loved about Wally as he took over for Barry was that he was learning and growing as he went along. I don’t know what’s coming, but this can be an opportunity for Wally to start growing again. (And, like those early Wally West Flash issues, it’ll probably happen in fits and starts. He was pretty insufferable at times early in his run.)

        Rob

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Rob, it’s good to hear your ideas. I suppose I just don’t buy into the basic New 52 notion that a hero with kids can’t interest younger readers. Most of us have families and they can make fascinating ‘battlegrounds. I loved that Wally had made his mistakes, he’d been an idiot, gone through a courtship, married and had kids. He’d been the teen hero, the reluctant heir and become a respected mentor. The only real mistake DC made was ageing up Irey and Jai.

        Now Wally is indeed well-placed for a new journey, but knowing what he’s lost, it’s going to be depressing. The best he can hope for in terms of happiness is something on the melancholy/bittersweet scale.

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  6. Steve, I’m not sure anyone really wanted to see Bart killed off. I think people just preferred him in the Impulse role (which suited him to a tee) as opposed to changing the character in pretty fundamental ways so that he could take on the Flash mantle.
    As for Wally’s Flash family book.. I enjoyed it and was buying it. But writing kids can be tricky, and I’m not sure that Waid managed to make the kids likeable enough… or enjoyable enough, maybe… to the audience. I’m not sure if people were put off by the insta-family and didn’t read the book, or if after trying the book, they decided it wasn’t what they wanted. My memory is fuzzy. Had Barry returned by then? I want to say he hadn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just did a dive through the back issue bins. Waid only stuck with the Flash family book for a handful of issues before bailing on the series… and then there was a rotating team of writers and artists on the book until it was cancelled a year later. To be replaced by Flash Rebirth.
      So yes… the readers might not have wanted to read about “happy family man Wally”. Or… DC didn’t want to invest in a happy Wally Flash because they knew they had Rebirth in the works and needed to minimize Wally so that Barry could shine. Or a little bit of both.
      Either way, I think it’s too simple to say that readers wanted Wally back, but they didn’t want a particular type of Wally back.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t like having the kids be so old, so quickly, but still, creative team tweaks could have got it into a groove eventually. Poor Wally and Linda, just dumped after so many years of loyal service to DC. What would Jonni DC think?

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  7. Anyway, TL; DR: Heroes in Crisis definitely wasn’t as good as I wanted to be. But I’m glad I read it, and at times it spoke to me the way I think was intended.

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      1. I’ve now read the Supergirl story in that – bloody awful! Eliza Danvers was unrecognisable, from her personality to her suddenly healed hand. The rest of the book has to be better!

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      2. The Supergirl entry was definitely the weakest part of the book. Once she’s back on earth, I might be letting that book go.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. well Mark Waid’s Flash Books are all out with Book 5 being to most recent so anybody wanting to wash their palette of this well you could read that

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  9. Not that this helps in any way, but I do not believe the “Wally twins” altered history to erase the frame-up of Booster and Harley. I believe the scene of Wally waiting on the front porch to be arrested happened in the “present day”, and that it was the five-day-later Wally waiting for the Justice League… who was responding to the alarms Booster, Beetle, Harley, and Batgirl had set off (and who was “calculated… to be here in two minutes.”)…

    I wonder if Booster’s “use of a clone to replace a killed body” plan was to explain how the Blue Beetle was resurrected… given that his death at the hands of Maxwell Lord was referenced…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Xum, how lovely to have you around here. So are you saying they never altered history at all? That Five Days Earlier Wally just stayed in his timeline and caught up with himself to be FDL Wally, who then want ent back into the past and set up a loop?

      And that Booster brought a Beetle from a sliver of time to replace the dead one?

      Comics shouldn’t be this complicated!

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  10. Yes.

    Yes (though it was FDE Wally who went back into the past with the dead clone of FDL Wally to set up the loop… that way he would “catch up with himself” five days later…).

    Yes.

    And… yes…

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